Are hybrid-solar PV systems worth it?
Hybrid-solar PV refers to combining solar photovoltaics (PV) with renewable energy technologies such as bio energy, wind turbines, geothermal etc or with conventional power technologies like diesel powered generators. Because of the intermittent nature of solar PV, developing a hybrid-solar PV helps to stabilize the grid or to produce power continuously in off-grid rural areas. Also, hybrid-PV systems have been used in micro-grids in rural areas of developing countries to substitute for fossil fuels while helping to mitigate climate change.
In some cases, for example with renewable generation that is affected by temperature, hybridization with PV can be used with renewable resources that are affected by high temperatures. For instance, during the hot summer seasons, the solar generated peak for the solar PV augments the capacity for the geothermal generated base load power increasing the power yield for the geothermal solar PV hybrid system.
So why have a hybrid-solar PV system?
- The peak operating times for wind and solar systems for example can occur at different times of the year and hence use of hybrid-PV systems is necessary to produce more power than needed which can be stored in energy storage (batteries) or sold to nearby neighbors in areas with net-metering schemes.
- Most hybrid -PV systems operate in off-grid areas, that is, mostly in developing countries in places not connected to the grid. For instance, most hybrid-PV systems will be charging their storage batteries mostly during off-peak hours when a lot of power is not being consumed directly by the available electrical loads which are mostly switched off. For instance, if the hybrid is a solar PV wind power system, the power will be generated and stored in batteries during off-peak to be later used at peak hours, that is at night when there is less solar PV electricity generated by the solar panels.
- Solar PV diesel hybrid system mainly used in rural areas can be used to lower fuel costs while helping to reduce the risk of high fuel prices and reducing carbon emission as PV will off-set part of the diesel that could have been otherwise consumed if PV was not included in the power plant.
- Solar PV hybrid systems can be programmed through artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning to help maximize power output during peak hours. Energy analytics provided through software can help the system to learn from historical data and help in planning to boost the performance of the hybrid system. From data analytics, the system can be programmed to store a specific amount of power in storage and to use it at a specific period in peak times when it is definitely needed.
- When diesel power needs to be replaced for climate mitigation, hybrid PV systems combined with wind or bio fuels powered generators can be used to off-set carbon emissions associated with diesel powered generators.
The above are just a few hybrid solar PV options which could be feasible based on many factors such performance, size, economics and the underlying objectives of a project. Interested about going solar? Learn more about how much you could pay for a solar power system by using this solar calculator.